An appealing and absorbing tale of a young sleuth.



A daring, inquisitive girl tries to save her school from disaster in this debut middle-grade novel.

To say that sixth-grade student Evie is curious is an understatement. A foster child, she mostly keeps to herself, becoming engrossed in novels and embarking in her head on the escapades they describe. She even has a secret space on the second floor of Ferngarden School, and it’s in this hideaway that she snoops and eavesdrops on her teachers. Evie is tortured by neighborhood bully Tar Greeley, and when he calls her an alien and implies that she comes from outer space, she sets out on a journey to figure out who her birth parents are. When she tries to find her birth certificate, she is rebuffed because she is too young to access the records, and she returns to everyday life, looking forward to the beginning of the school year. But just before the first day of school, the teachers find a strange infestation of copperhead snakes and Ferngarden is deemed unfit to open. Soon, the town finds out that if Ferngarden doesn’t open on schedule, it is immediately returned to the estate of the original owner, whose sole heir is Tar’s father. Evie and her friend Danny are sure that the Greeleys have something to do with the snakes, but can they prove it? Evie returns to eavesdropping, and the fate of the school (and her own destiny) falls into her hands. Evie’s emotional and intellectual maturity is about on par with that of an actual middle schooler (which is a good thing). Wickham’s characterization of Evie makes her a worthy role model and, hopefully, readers around the same age will see her that way. While the story is fun and engaging (if a bit obvious), the pacing is off, as the whole tale wraps up in the final 15 or so pages. A more gradual road to the book’s climax would have served it better—though it’s entertaining, one gets the sense of “Oh, that’s all?” Wickham would do well to create a series of Evie adventures—with her infinite curiosity, she’s a remarkable heroine.

An appealing and absorbing tale of a young sleuth. 

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9981619-0-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: Finisterre Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2017

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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